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Spca: ''Think Before You Buy A Pet For Christmas!'


For Release: 26 November 2003


''Before you buy a pet for Christmas, ask yourself whether you and your family can truly provide it with a stable loving home,'' says the Royal New Zealand SPCA.

"No-one is more aware than ourselves of the huge numbers of animals in need of someone to care for them. We're delighted when someone steps forward to provide a home for a dog, cat, parrot or some other furry or feathered friend. But we do ask that the person concerned understands that pet ownership is a long term responsibility and is in a position to take on that commitment," says the Royal New Zealand SPCA's Chief Executive, Peter Blomkamp.

"Animals aren't toys to be ignored and forgotten once Christmas and New Year are over and the novelty of having them has worn off. Nor should they be cast aside when the cost or inconvenience of owning them becomes too great. It's simply cruel and irresponsible to buy animals on a whim and then neglect or abandon them," he adds.

Mr Blomkamp says that potential pet owners need to ask themselves whether they have the time, space, attitude and resources necessary for looking after an animal.

"As far as 'time' is concerned, if every adult human in a given household is out all day and for most of the evening, then they're unlikely to be able to look after an animal properly. Even independent creatures such as cats need company whilst dogs, of course, need someone to exercise them regularly. And, ideally, someone does need to be in easy reach to rush the household pet to the vet in an emergency.

"There's no disgrace in admitting that you and those with whom you share a home are unable to provide the necessary time for looking after an animal. People today lead very busy lives and, if your household is a busy one, it might be sensible to wait until you have more time in your life before taking on the responsibilities of animal ownership, "says Mr Blomkamp.

"People who live in rented accommodation are also well-advised to think twice before acquiring a pet. Some landlords will allow a cat or a dog on the premises. But what do you do when you have to move and the next landlord has a 'No Pets' clause in his agreement? And, even if you own your own home, you may not have the spacious fenced-off section needed for a large, healthy active dog. In such cases, the responsible approach might also be to wait until your circumstances change.

"Similarly, it's worth asking who will look after your a pet if you're the sort of person who travels frequently or if you think you might be spending some time overseas in the foreseeable future. Pet-ownership can mean a lengthy commitment as both dogs and cats often live for 12 or 15 years. Ask yourself whether you are truly in a position to make that sort of commitment at this stage of your life," he says.

Mr Blomkamp adds that pet owners also require the "right attitude" for the task . They should be prepared , he says, to treat an animal as a fully-fledged member of the family, with clear entitlements, including food of the right types and quantities, as well as affection and consideration.

"You also have to be ready to forgive, even when your puppy decides to dig up the garden or plant muddy paws all over the furniture," he says.

"Cost is another significant consideration. Kittens and puppies are often advertised as 'free' but their food and veterinary care will still cost money, even once you've paid for vaccination, de-sexing and, in the case of a puppy, registration. In addition, there will be costs associated with the implanting of electronic microchips into dogs, as required by recent legislation. So it's worth asking whether you truly have the financial resources for looking after a pet.

"If, having asked yourself all these questions, you are sure that you can cope with the responsibilities of pet ownership, then take yourself to your nearest SPCA shelter and find an animal who needs the love and care your family can provide. The chances are that your affection will be repaid time and time again by your new family member.

"Every year, thousands of pets, particularly dogs and cats, are put to death, not because they are ill, old or have done anything wrong but because they've lost their novelty value or have become too expensive or inconvenient to own . If irresponsible pet owners are the source of the problem, responsible ones, with enough space in their homes and their hearts, are clearly the solution," he adds.


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